Thursday, November 1, 2007

Huh - Observations

I've mentioned before that I am in a few online "ex-Mormon groups" or discussion boards. It's interesting to me to see how everyone reacts to leaving the LDS church, why they left, and what they are doing now.

In one of my groups, they have posted a link to Belief Net to help one understand what organized religion they more closely identify to. I took a few of these while I was LDS out of fun, and one shortly after leaving the LDS church and always ended up with the LDS church as number one or top three spots. Curious, since I knew God had been really growing me in areas that I hadn't noticed until after I had grown, I took the quiz again. My results:

1. Mainline to Conservative Christian/Protestant (100%)
2. Orthodox Quaker (100%)
3. Eastern Orthodox (91%)
4. Roman Catholic (91%)
5. Seventh Day Adventist (88%)
6. Mainline to Liberal Christian Protestants (77%)
7. Islam (56%)
8. Orthodox Judaism (56%)
9. Hinduism (51%)
10. Liberal Quakers (51%)
11. Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormons) (49%)
12. Bahá'í Faith (44%)
13. Jehovah's Witness (44%)
14. Unitarian Universalism (39%)
15. Reform Judaism (37%)
16. Jainism (37%)
17. Sikhism (36%)
18. Christian Science (Church of Christ, Scientist) (32%)
19. Mahayana Buddhism (31%)
20. Theravada Buddhism (30%)
21. Scientology (27%)
22. New Age (22%)
23. New Thought (21%)
24. Neo-Pagan (19%)
25. Nontheist (15%)
26. Secular Humanism (15%)
27. Taoism (11%)

At least it's not in my top three anymore. ;) In the group as they discuss their results and what they believe in now - I'm noticing a trend. A large majority of them seem to either shy away from organized religion (who can blame them? They are subscribing to the, "once bitten, twice shy" mindset) or there are a few who don't believe in the LDS church and simply stay because of comfort. I understand both points of view - when we were aware that God was calling us away from the LDS church, we would attend GP services in the morning and our ward's meetings in the afternoon. Once the Lord showed me through His Word that the church was not true, then I stopped attending. The temptation though, to continue attending was pretty strong. I want to say I had more self control than that though, but really, GP had grown on us by that time and attending almost five hours of church - not counting our 2-3 hour small group - was just exhausting.

Organized religion - I can understand their mindsets on this as well. Frankly, if it wasn't God who had guided us out of the church and we just stumbled over anti-Mormon material, or took offense or any of the other secular/fleshly "reasons" (given by LDS church leadership - not by ex-Mormons themselves) that ex-Mormons supposedly leave, then I don't believe Steve and I would have attended another church. Steve would have lapsed back into atheism as he did after our stint in Pahrump and I would have eventually given up and returned to enjoying a full two day weekend as opposed to a one day weekend to do all my chores so as to observe the Sabbath properly.

In another group I'm in (created to "Help the Protestants" - created by a passionate LDS apologetic in order to shame doctrines like the Trinity for example) I noticed a recent thread entitled, "Do you have any self worth?". I don't always jump into these conversations but rather enjoy observing. I always learn a new thing or two that should be obvious to me about what I used to believe, but at times, simply go unnoticed. I found one post really interesting and began to think it over in my head.

Self = Unabridged (v 1.1) –noun 1. a person or thing referred to with respect to complete individuality: one's own self. 2. a person's nature, character, etc.: his better self. 3. personal interest. 4. Philosophy. a. the ego; that which knows, remembers, desires, suffers, etc., as contrasted with that known, remembered, etc. b. the uniting principle, as a soul, underlying all subjective experience worth = Unabridged (v 1.1) –noun 4. excellence of character or quality as commanding esteem: women of worth. 5. usefulness or importance, as to the world, to a person, or for a purpose: Your worth to the world is inestimable. Self-worth = the realization of, or understanding of; who or what we truly are, the value we are to ourselves, and those around us us, ... Self-worth = coming to the realization, or understanding, that we, each and everyone, are living breathing children of our heavenly Father, that we are loved, that we are so loved and valued, that our Heavenly Father sent his Son Jesus Christ, to be born of him, on the earth, that we may return to live with him, our Heavenly Father. Self-worth = the belief and/or knowledge that we are special; that we are unique; that we are children (literally) of God, and that he knows each and everyone of us by name, he knows the number of hair on our head We must love ourselves, as he loves us, and love him, as he has loved us. If we love him, and choose to serve him in everything, our self-worth will become evident to us, as he will reveal to us, who we are in him. (Do you have any self worth?)

It dawned on me what exactly was being stated - or rather what was not being stated here as all the other LDS posters congratulated that author on his post about self-worth. What is not stated is that God had to send Jesus to reconcile us to Him because we are sinners. I began to think over in my mind how many times I had been taught that I was a sinner while in the LDS church - I couldn't put my finger on an exact time. I knew that I was and still am a sinner. That was never vague. But the teachings never put together that Jesus had to come and die because we are separated from God BECAUSE we are sinners. Recall, that the Fall was God's will and plan - so why would God come to fix what was never broken? And those crazy Protestants (I kid) and others like them who like to discuss how we are all sinners worthy for hell have self-worth issues. It hit me that another "Christian" doctrine that I had hated was this sinners worthy for hell - and now not only did I accept and understand it, but I found it helps me remain focused on Jesus and His sacrifice for me. I find that my self worth comes from knowing that while I was "ungodly" (Romans 5:6) God died for me. God loves mankind so much, that He died for us. Even when, technically, we weren't worth dying for.

I mean, just look at the very lengthy modern day, set in stone list of sins we committ everyday according to Prophet Spencer W. Kimball is his reknown book, "The Miracle of Forgivess" (I recently learned that Bishops keep this book on hand in bulk quanities for members going through a repentance process.)

Spencer W. Kimball, The Miracle of Forgiveness , p.19

As we read the scriptures quoted or referred to above, we observe that they list virtually all the modern transgressions, though sometimes under ancient names. Let us review the lengthy list:
Murder, adultery, theft, cursing, unholiness in masters, disobedience in servants, unfaithfulness, improvidence, hatred of God, disobedience to husbands, lack of natural affection, high-mindedness, flattery, lustfulness, infidelity, indiscretion, backbiting, whispering, lack of truth, striking, brawling, quarrelsomeness, unthankfulness, inhospitality, deceitfulness, irreverence, boasting, arrogance, pride, double-tongued talk, profanity, slander, corruptness, thievery, embezzlement, despoiling, covenant-breaking, incontinence, filthiness, ignobleness, filthy communications, impurity, foolishness, slothfulness, impatience, lack of understanding, unmercifulness, idolatry, blasphemy, denial of the Holy Ghost, Sabbath breaking, envy, jealousy, malice, maligning, vengefulness, implacability, bitterness, clamor, spite, defiling, reviling, evil speaking, provoking, greediness for filthy lucre, disobedience to parents, anger, hate, covetousness, bearing false witness, inventing evil things, fleshliness, heresy, presumptuousness, abomination, insatiable appetite, instability, ignorance, self-will, speaking evil of dignitaries, becoming a stumbling block; and in our modern language, masturbation, petting, fornication, adultery, homosexuality; and every sex perversion, every hidden and secret sin and all unholy and impure practices.

And this observation, in my Tic-Tac-Toe mind - leads me right back to "practical" and active faith. Ever play the game "Apples to Apples"? Self worth to me, brings to mind the words, "pride" or "selfish". To a point, we do have to have self worth - when we accept Christ, we are new creations, we were so valued that God died for us (although we do also need to know why He had to die for us), and we must hold ourselves in enough esteem not to allow others to treat us badly. However, where is the line drawn? Where does humility and understanding of God's great sacrifice for us come in? Where exactly is the line drawn between valuable self worth and a stumbling block of pride and selfishness?

I think the Lord is trying to teach me something with all the questions building up in me - but I'm not sure what yet. He should know that I hate puzzles. :P

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